Mike Chiapetta transcribes some of the words of UFC head honcho Dana White, via Bloody Elbow, that Kenny Florian is not a fighter that rises to the occasion:
"I hate to say this because I don't want to take anything away from Gray Maynard, but I think Kenny is just one of those guys who chokes in big fights. I'm not bad-mouthing him or trying to disrespect him; I'm just being honest. Every time it's a big fight and there's a lot of things on the line, Kenny just ... Kenny's hands are unbelievable. Kenny's ground is unbelievable. Kenny usually kicks guys to the body and legs so hard that he busts guys up. You didn't see any of that tonight. He stood there and stared at Gray Maynard for three rounds."
It really pains me to hear him say such a thing. First of all it doesn't make any sense for him to outright give us a reason to ignore any future Kenny Florian fights. If he chokes in the big one, which means his career is not headed anywhere special, then why should we care about him anymore? What's the ultimate goal for his career now? Those aren't questions that really need to be asked though. They're hypothetical based on what White is saying. In some ways he is right but for the most part he's wrong.
Does Florian choke in the big fights? In some ways, yes, he does. The problem with saying that though, is that you discount all of his other victories as if they aren't worth anything. Are we forgetting that he soundly defeated Joe Stevenson at UFC 91 in what was a number one contender match? Or even the fight before it in which he had no trouble with Roger Huerta, a guy who hadn't lost in 17 consecutive fights before that night? The Gomi fight that he dominated from the outset before choking him out? Suddenly these fights mean nothing?
When White says that Florian chokes in the big fights he is specifically referring to 3 fights in particular. UFC 64 against Sean Sherk, UFC 101 against BJ Penn and now UFC 118 against Gray Maynard. As far as the Penn fight goes, he was beaten by a fighter that is better than him. Nothing more, nothing less. He came in with a gameplan similar to what GSP used to beat Penn but Florian doesn't have the size to properly execute it. That same problem, his size, is also the issue in the other two fights. He just couldn't stop Sean Sherk from picking him up and throwing him around and once Maynard got on top of him he couldn't get out from underneath him. By the time he threatened with submissions it was too late.
So we can surmise that Florian has a problem with strong wrestlers who can control him once they get on top of him. That has nothing to do with the fact that he was in a big fight. When Dana comes out and says that, he's really killing Florian's credibility with the fans. Whether people want to admit it or not, what White says helps shape what people actually believe. If he thinks Florian can't win a big fight then what reason does anyone have to disagree with him?